Leontyne Price had no right to be a great soprano. In the America of the 50's and 60's prior to Lyndon Johnson's 'Great Society' legistlation the likelihood of someone from Laurel Mississippi becoming a major star of New York's Metropolitan Opera was vanishingly small. Paul Robeson spotted her promise and sang at a benefit concert for her and by the early 1950's she was singing 'Summertime' at a Met Gala and the door to opera opened through the young medium of TV and the NBC Opera Theatre, under music director Peter Herman Adler. In January 1955 she sang the title role in Puccini's Tosca, the first appearance by an African American in a leading role in televised opera. The rest is history. She became one of the world's most in demand singers and, when the new Metropolitan Opera was opened in 1966 she sang the role of Cleopatra in Samuel Barber's new opera written for the occasion. her voice is simply astonishing. Rich, smoky and with a superlative technique it has to be heard to be believed. Feast your ears on this!
Leontyne Price sings Summertime here
Leontyne Price in interview here
Price sings Aida at here Met farewell here